Customer Survey Finds Overwhelming Support for Advanced Metering Infrastructure Project

Technology Allows Customers to Better Manage Water Use and Save Money

| News Release

OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS AND COMMUNITY RELATIONS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Cost-Benefit Analysis Shows Project Pays for Itself in 11 Years
and Saves $286 million over 20 Years

Laurel, Md. – October 21, 2020 – An overwhelming majority of WSSC Water’s customers support the implementation of Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) technology, according to a recently conducted survey that was presented today at WSSC Water’s monthly Commission meeting. AMI replaces outdated manual meter reading with a modern system that allows water meters to communicate encrypted usage information wirelessly using radio or cellular technology. A recently completed AMI cost-benefit analysis also shows the project will pay for itself in 11 years and save customers $286 million over 20 years.

Customer Survey

The quantitative survey consisted of 512 randomly selected Montgomery and Prince George’s County residential (408) and commercial (104) customers evenly split among both counties. Key highlights of the comprehensive survey include:

  • 84 percent of customers surveyed support implementation of AMI technology.
  • The vast majority of customers surveyed would use AMI to compare water usage to previous bills, conserve water and check for leaks.
  • 75 percent of customers would not opt-out of having AMI technology installed at their home/business.
  • Of the 25 percent who would opt-out, a majority (59 percent) would be willing to pay a fee.
  • After learning more about the benefits of AMI, the percentage of customers choosing not to opt-out climbed to 80 percent.

“With AMI, customers can better manage water usage and protect against high bills,” said WSSC Water General Manager and CEO Carla A. Reid. “Through a user-friendly portal, customers will have near real-time water usage information at their fingertips and receive leak alerts, thereby reducing bills and saving money. From an environmental perspective, new smart meters will mean fewer WSSC Water vehicles on the road, helping us reduce our carbon footprint by 130 metric tons per year.”

WSSC Water has heard from some customers concerned about radio frequency (RF) exposure from smart meters. AMI uses non-ionizing RF to communicate encrypted water usage data. This type of RF is commonly used in cell phones, TV remotes, Wi-Fi, baby and medical monitors, garage-door openers and Bluetooth devices. Key highlights around RF use include:

  • 86 percent of customers had no health concerns related to AMI technology.
  • Nearly 100 percent of all respondents to the survey have Wi-Fi in their home or business.

Cost-Benefit Analysis

In addition to the survey, WSSC Water recently completed an extensive AMI cost-benefit analysis to provide more information on this important infrastructure investment project. Key highlights of the analysis include:

  • AMI will pay for itself in 11 years – six years after project completion in summer 2026.
  • Over a 20-year period, AMI savings will exceed the cost by more than $286 million, which will have a long-term positive impact on rate stabilization while significantly improving customer service.
  • WSSC Water will achieve significant cost savings with more accurate meters and redeploying existing meter readers. No jobs will be lost.
  • AMI installation is estimated to cost approximately $208 million. This is in line with comparably sized water utilities. The primary cost driver is complete replacement of all 492,000 meters.

WSSC Water’s AMI project is currently in the planning phase with meter installation starting winter 2022, and project completion expected summer 2026.

A full copy of the survey and cost-benefit analysis can be found at wsscwater.com/AMI.

WSSC Water is the proud provider of safe, seamless and satisfying water services, making the essential possible every day for our neighbors in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. We work to deliver our best because it’s what our customers expect and deserve.

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